Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Year-End Reflections and Aspirations of a Fiction Editor and Writing Coach


HAPPY NEW YEAR, writers! May all your hopes and aspirations reach fruition in 2016!

As I have in the past, I hope to continue in the upcoming year to help writers sharpen their skills and reach their publication goals through my editor's guides to writing compelling fiction, as well as my clickable e-resource guides, blog posts, and workshops -- and of course my editing of novels and short stories.

If you're looking to hone your craft at writing and also network with other writers, editors, agents, and publishers, my New Year's gift to you is a very comprehensive list of Writers' Conferences and Book Festivals in North America in 2016, just below this blog post. Or click here to view the list, organized by month, with links to their websites.

And here's a list, with active links, of my most popular tips for writing compelling fiction: Links to Jodie Renner's Top Craft of Writing Posts.

2015 was a very productive year for me -- in fact, a little too busy, for someone who is supposed to be retired and slowing down!

On February 28, I published my third writing guide, CAPTIVATE YOUR READERS - An Editor's Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction. This book is all about engaging readers emotionally and keeping them eagerly turning the pages of your fiction using techniques such as deep point of view, avoiding author intrusions, and showing instead of telling. It has already won two book awards plus an Honorable Mention. You can check it out on Amazon HERE.

And here's my Amazon Author Page, in case you're interested in my two other writing guides; two handy, clickable resources for writers, editors, and students; and the regional anthology I organized and edited and published on Nov. 24, 2015.

In April 2015 (for the second time in a year!), I moved to a new town closer to my family, which I love. Think I'll put down roots here in beautiful Penticton, BC, situated between two lakes, with mountains on the other two sides - and mild winters, for Canada! I'm a member of the local writers' group, Penticton Writers and Publishers, and am on the organizing committee for a writers' conference here in April, the Okanagan Valley Writers' Festival, April 8-10, 2016.

Penticton, BC, Canada; photo by Doug McLauchlan

I've continued to edit novels for my clients around the world (but mainly in the U.S.), which I find very rewarding, both because of the opportunity to work with talented authors to polish their exciting stories, and for the warm, long-lasting relationships that are created as a result of long-term collaborations.

I also presented writing workshops at several conferences in 2015, including, in January, at bestselling author Steven James' Troubleshooting Your Novel workshops in Nashville, at Word on the Lake Writers' Festival in Salmon Arm, BC, in May, and at When Words Collide in Calgary, Alberta, in August. And I've been busy judging short stories for various contests and anthologies, including again this year for Writer's Digest's Popular Fiction Awards.

After being an active blogger, publishing my tips on writing compelling fiction first on Crime Fiction Collective for three years, then for two and a half years every second Monday on the award-winning The Kill Zone blog (both blogs mainly aimed at writers and readers of mysteries and thrillers), I decided to step down from regular blogging to focus my energies more locally, with occasional posts here on my own blog.

In 2015, I again served as a fiction judge for short stories for Writer's Digest's Popular Fiction Awards. My category was thrillers, and I received about 245 short stories, which I had to narrow down to my top 10 choices, in order. That was a huge job, but I'm confident that the final 10 I chose were the most exciting and well-written stories in that category.

This year I've also been busy organizing and editing two anthologies for charity, with more to come in the future.

Because I was so delighted to be back in beautiful British Columbia, on Canada's West Coast after an extended absence, I decided to organize a high-quality anthology of stories and poems that typify and celebrate life in BC. This ended up to be a huge undertaking, reaching out to writers around the province and reading, then choosing, and editing their submissions. Many of the stories went back and forth several times during the editing process. Then I had to decide how the contributions would be organized and format the book. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet talented writers in BC and collaborate with them to produce a polished product that would also benefit a very worthy charity, Doctors Without Borders.

On November 24, we proudly released VOICES FROM THE VALLEYS - Stories & Poems about Life in BC's Interior.  Within 3 weeks, we were sold out of the first printing of 400 copies! We're on the second printing now, and I've already sent our first monetary donation to Doctors Without Borders.

At 107,000 words long and 308 pages, this high-quality anthology includes fiction, true stories, and poetry by 51 contributors, organized by region of the interior of BC, as well as drawings and both colour and black-and-white photos of BC.

The e-book version is without the images but contains a few extra stories and poems that I couldn't fit into the print version.

For more on this fabulous celebration of life in British Columbia, Canada, plus a link to a PDF of excerpts from the book, click HERE.


I'm also in the process of organizing and editing CHILDHOOD REGAINED - Stories of Hope for Asian Child Workers. This collection of short stories, aimed at readers age 12 and up, is about children working in difficult conditions in South Asia - India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It's meant to raise awareness of the conditions these children are living under and to raise money to help eradicate child labor in Asia. It will be released in spring 2016, and we're still trying to find the best charity for it. The proceeds will definitely go to a charity aimed at helping third-world children. likely Save the Children.

For 2016, I'm thrilled to have been invited to present again at Word on the Lake Writers Festival in May in Salmon Arm, BC, where I will join esteemed Canadian writers such as Arthur Slade, Alan Twigg of BC BookWorld, Robert J Sawyer, and Richard Wagamese.

I'll also be presenting two workshops at the Okanagan Valley Writers Festival, April 8-10, and will be judging short stories for the Federation of BC Writers' contest, Literary Writes 2016. I also plan to continue editing novels and producing anthologies in 2016 and beyond.

What about you? How was your 2015? Please share any writing-related news in the comments below. How about 2016? What are your writing, editing, and publishing goals for the year to come? Let us know in the comments below.

Thanks!

Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor and the award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Captivate Your Readers, Fire up Your Fiction, and Writing a Killer Thriller. She has also published two clickable time-saving e-resources to date: Quick Clicks: Spelling List and Quick Clicks: Word Usage. Jodie recently organized and edited a BC-wide anthology of stories and poetry for Doctors Without Borders, called Voices from the Valleys, and is working on a second anthology, Childhood Regained, to help reduce child labor in Asia. You can find Jodie at www.JodieRenner.com, www.JodieRennerEditing.com, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Click HERE to sign up for Jodie’s occasional newsletter.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

REVISE FOR SUCCESS – Concrete Tips for Revision and Self-Editing

by Jodie Renner, editor and award-winning author

After you’ve finished the first draft of your popular fiction novel or short story – or even if you’re only a third or halfway into it but have some nagging doubts about the viability of various aspects of the story – take a short break. Put your manuscript aside for a week or two and concentrate on other things. Then come back to it with a bit of distance, as a reader. Here's a step-by-step guide to looking for any possible weaknesses in your writing, story line, or characterization.

STEP 1: LOOK FOR ANY BIG-PICTURE ISSUES: 

Premise: Is it intriguing and solid? Will the foundation of your story stand up to scrutiny?

Characterization: Is your protagonist charismatic, multi-dimensional, conflicted, and at least somewhat sympathetic and likeable?

See Create a Complex, Charismatic Main Character.

Does he have significant, meaningful goals and motivations? Do your characters’ decisions and actions seem realistic and authentic?

Make Sure Your Characters Act in Character

Are your supporting characters different from each other and the protagonist, for interesting contrast and tension?

Point of View: Are you staying firmly in the head of the viewpoint character for each scene, or are there places where you’re hovering above or inadvertently slipping into the thoughts of other characters (head-hopping)?

POV 101: Get into Your Protagonist’s Head and Stay There 

POV 102 – How to Avoid Head-Hopping 

POV 103 – Engage Your Readers with Deep Point of View 

Plot: Does your protagonist have a significant challenge or dilemma that’s difficult to solve? Are you piling on the problems as the story goes on? Make sure every plot point directly affects the character and his journey. 

Structure: Should you start your story or any of your scenes later? Or earlier? Would it be more effective to change the order of some chapters or scenes? Shorten some or expand others? Or even delete a few?

Scenes: Does every scene drive the story forward?

Every Scene needs Tension and a Change.  

Make brief scene outlines, using this template:

   Scene: Chapter: Place:
   - Date/Month/Season: Year (approx.):
   - POV character for this scene:
   - Other main characters here:
   - POV character’s goal here:
   - Motivation for their goal (why do they want that?):
   - Main problem/conflict – Who/What is preventing POV character from reaching his/her goal:
  - Outcome – Usually a setback / new problem:

Delete or rewrite any scenes that don’t have conflict and a change and don’t advance the story. 

Plot holes, inconsistencies, or discrepancies: Ask others to watch out for any bloopers for you.

Opening: Will your opening paragraphs and first pages hook the readers and entice them to keep reading? Don’t warm up your engines with backstory or start with lengthy description – get right into the story!

12 Dos and Don’ts for a Riveting Opening.

Length: Is your story too long or too short? If it’s more than 90,000 words (okay, unless it’s a fantasy or epic), check out

How to Slash Your Word Cut by 20-40% - Without losing any of the good stuff!

This would be a good time to send your story off to some trusted beta readers, volunteers who read critically in your genre. They don’t need to be writers.

Here’s list of 15 Questions for Your Beta Readers – And to Focus Your Own Revisions

STEP 2: WRITING STYLE, VOICE, TONE, AND PACING

Show, don’t tell. Be sure to show, rather than tell, all critical scenes in real time, with action and dialogue, and quickly summarize or skip over humdrum scenes. See my article, Show, Don't Tell.

Show character reactions: Bring characters to life on the page by showing their emotions, physical reactions, thought reactions, and sensory perceptions.

See: Bring Your Characters to Life by Showing Their Reactions and

Immerse Your Readers with Sensory Details.

Relax your writing. Is your writing style too correct and formal for fiction? If so, loosen up the language. Read it aloud to see where you can make it more casual by streamlining sentences and using contractions and everyday words.

See Tips for Loosening up Your Writing.

Spark up your prose. Use strong, specific nouns and verbs instead of tired, overused ones. Check out my article,

 Nail it with Just the Right Word.

Pacing and adding tension: Pick up the Pace for a Real Page-Turner and

Add Tension, Suspense, and Intrigue.

Write tight. Read aloud to see where you can cut down on wordiness and repetitions. Take out any “little word pile-ups” and all unnecessary detail to improve flow and pacing. Make every word count. See many chapters of Fire up Your Fiction for more specifics on this, and my post,

Don’t Muddle Your Message.  

Authentic dialogue. Read aloud to make sure your dialogue sounds natural, like that character would actually speak. See my blog post,

 Tips for Writing Effective Dialogue.

Avoid these Style Blunders in Fiction.

STEP 3: Go through the revised copy for a final proofreading.

Look for typos, spelling, punctuation, missing or repeated words, and anywhere the prose doesn’t flow easily and sparkle. Also, look for formatting problems. Is your prose broken down into short paragraphs, for more white space? Have you started a new paragraph for every new speaker? Is your dialogue properly punctuated? See my article

Dialogue Nuts and Bolts.

Some techniques that work for effective proofreading:

~ Change the font and print out your story on paper or download it to your e-reader or tablet; or get a sample book printed. Then read it in a different location from where you wrote it and make notes.       

For more tips on effective final proofreading, see my article,

Tricks and Tips for Catching All Those Little Typos in Your Own Work.

Also, see How to save a bundle on editing costs – without sacrificing quality and

  Basic Formatting of Your Manuscript (Formatting 101) 

Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor, workshop presenter, judge for fiction contests, and the award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Captivate Your Readers, Fire up Your Fiction, and Writing a Killer Thriller. She has also published two clickable time-saving e-resources to date: Quick Clicks: Spelling List and Quick Clicks: Word Usage. Jodie recently organized and edited two anthologies for charity: Voices from the Valleys, and Childhood Regained – Stories of Hope for Asian Child Workers. You can find Jodie on her Amazon Author Page, at www.JodieRenner.com, and on Facebook. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Links to Jodie Renner’s Top Craft of Writing Posts

at The Kill Zone blog and also links to some of Jodie's most popular articles on this blog. (below)

*Stay tuned - I will arrange these and more of my blog posts on writing compelling fiction by topic, one of these days!

by Jodie Renner, editor and author
I started guest blogging at The Kill Zone blog ("Insider perspectives from top mystery and thriller writers") in November 2012, then officially joined the team in early October 2013. That was the year The Kill Zone blog first received the Writer's Digest Award for "101 Best Websites for Writers." I like to think my popular craft of writing posts helped us attain that award, which we've also received for 2014 and 2015.
Due to changes in my own life, including a move across the country and shifting my personal focus, I reluctantly decided to step down from The Kill Zone, and my last post as part of the team at TKZ was on June 1, 2015. It was a lot of fun and a real honor to be part of the talented team at TKZ during those few years, and I was told my contributions, including setting up the TKZ Library, helped expand the readership of the blog. 
I was also pleased to have brought in to TKZ as guest bloggers several friends who are bestselling authors, including Robert Dugoni, Steven James, Allison Brennan, LJ Sellers, and Allan Leverone, as well as award-winning blogger and humorous fiction writer, Anne R. Allen.

LINKS TO MANY OF JODIE RENNER’S CRAFT OF WRITING POSTS ON THE KILL ZONE BLOG:

~ 15 Questions for Your Beta Readers – And to Focus Your Own Revisions
…To avoid generic (and generally useless) responses like “I liked it,” “It was good,” or “It was okay,” it’s best to guide your volunteer readers with specific questions.

~ 12 Essential Steps from Story Idea to Publish-Ready Novel
… If you want your novel, novella, or short story to intrigue readers and garner great reviews, use these 12 steps to guide you along at each phase of the process: ...

~ Don’t Stop the Story to Introduce Each Character
Imagine you’ve just met someone for the first time, and after saying hello, they corral you and go into a long monologue about their childhood, upbringing, education, careers, relationships, plans, etc. You keep nodding as you glance around furtively, trying to figure out how to extricate yourself from this self-centered boor. You don’t even know this person, so why would you care about all these details at this point?

~ Writing Tense Action Scenes
When your characters are running for their lives, it’s time to write tight and leave out a lot of description, especially little insignificant details about their surroundings. Characters on the run don’t have time to admire the scenery or décor, start musing about a moment in the past, or have great long thoughts or discussions. Their adrenaline is pumping and all they’re thinking of is survival – theirs and/or someone else’s.

~ Impart Info with Attitude – Strategies for Turning Impersonal Info Dumps into Compelling Copy
As a freelance fiction editor, I find that military personnel, professionals, academics, police officers, and others who are used to imparting factual information in objective, detached, bias-free ways often need a lot of coaching in loosening up their language and adding attitude and emotions to create a captivating story world. Really need those facts in there? Rewrite with attitude!

~ Checklist for Adding Suspense and Intrigue to Your Story
Here’s a handy checklist for ratcheting up the tension and suspense of your novel or short story. Use as many of these elements and devices as possible to increase the “wow” factor of your fiction.

~ Phrasing for Immediacy and Power
Have you ever been engrossed in a novel, reading along, when you hit a blip that made you go “huh?” or “why?” for a nanosecond? Then you had to reread the sentence to figure out what’s going on? Often, it’s because actions are written in a jumbled-up or reversed order, rather than the order they occurred. Do this too often, and your readers will start getting annoyed.

~ Immerse Your Readers with Sensory Details
In order for your story and characters to come to life on the page, your readers need to be able see what the main character is seeing, hear what he’s hearing, and smell, taste and feel along with him.

~ 10 Ways to Add Depth to Your Scenes
… Besides advancing the storyline, scenes should: reveal and deepen characters and their relationships; show setting details; provide any necessary background info (in a natural way, organic to the story); add tension and conflict; hint at dangers and intrigue to come; and generally enhance the overall tone and mood of your story.

~ Using Thought-Reactions to Add Attitude & Immediacy
… Showing your character’s immediate thought-reactions is a great way to let the readers in on what your character is really thinking about what’s going on, how they’re reacting inside, often in contrast to how they’re acting outwardly.

~ Nail it with Just the Right Word
To set the mood of a scene in your story, bring the characters to life, and engage readers in their world and their plight, it’s critical to choose just the right nuance of meaning to fit the character, action, and situation.

~ Looking for an editor? Check them out very carefully!
An incident happened to me recently that got me thinking about all the pitfalls that aspiring authors face today when seeking professional assistance to get their books polished and ready to self-publish or send to agents.

~ Tips for Loosening up Your Writing
As a freelance editor, I’ve received fiction manuscripts from lots of professionals, and for many of these clients, whose report-writing skills are well-researched, accurate and precise, my editing often focuses on helping them relax their overly correct writing style.

~ How to save a bundle on editing costs – without sacrificing quality
below you’ll find lots of advice for significantly reducing your editing costs, with additional links at the end to concrete tips for approaching the revision process and for reducing your word count without losing any of the good stuff. 

~ Pick up the Pace for a Real Page-Turner
… Today’s readers have shorter attention spans and so many more books to choose from. Most of them/us don’t have the time or patience for the lengthy descriptive passages, long, convoluted “literary” sentences, detailed technical explanations, author asides, soap-boxing, or the leisurely pacing of fiction of 100 years ago.

~ 12 Tips for Writing Blog Posts That Get Noticed
Blogging is a great way to build a community feeling, connect with readers and writers, and get your books noticed. …But if you’re just getting started in the world of blogging and want to build a following, it’s all about offering the readers value in an open, accessible style and format.

~ 25 Tips for Writing a Winning Short Story
Writing short stories is a great way to test the waters of fiction without making a huge commitment, or to experiment with different genres, characters, settings, and voices. And due to the rise in e-books and e-magazines, length is no longer an issue for publication, so there’s a growing market for short fiction.

~ Fire up Your Fiction with Foreshadowing
… Foreshadowing is about sprinkling in subtle little hints and clues as you go along about possible revelations, complications, and trouble to come. It incites curiosity, anticipation, and worry in the readers, which is exactly what you want.

~ POV 101: Get into Your Protagonist’s Head and Stay There

~ POV 102 – How to Avoid Head-Hopping 

~ POV 103 – Engage Your Readers with Deep Point of View

~ Just the Right Word is Only a Click Away
How are your word usage and spelling skills? Try this quiz to find out.  …

~ Tricks and Tips for Catching All Those Little Typos in Your Own Work
Tips for fooling your brain into thinking your story is something new, something you need to read critically and revise ruthlessly before it reaches the demanding eyes of a literary agent, acquiring editor, contest judge, or picky reviewer.

~ Don’t Muddle Your Message
… Wordiness muddles your message, slows down the momentum, and drags an anchor through the forward movement of your story. It also reduces tension, anticipation, and intrigue, all essential for keeping readers glued to your book.

~ How to Reach More Readers with Your Writing
15 tips for clear, concise, powerful writing

~ Make Sure Your Characters Act in Character
Do your characters’ decisions and actions seem realistic and authentic?

~ Create a Fascinating, Believable Antagonist
For a riveting story, be sure to challenge your hero – or heroine – to the max.

~ How are short stories evaluated for publication or awards?
What are some of the common criteria used by publications and contests when evaluating short story submissions?

~ Critical Scenes Need Nail-Biting Details
… for significant scenes where your character is trying to escape confinement or otherwise fight for his life, be sure you don’t skip over the details. If it’s a life-or-death moment, show every tiny movement, thought, and action.

AND SOME POPULAR POSTS FROM THIS BLOG:

Here are links to a few of the most popular blog posts from this blog, Resources for Writers. Click on the title to go to the article.

~ SHOW, DON'T TELL

~ REVISE FOR SUCCESS: A Stress-Free, Concrete Plan of Action for Revising, Editing, and Polishing Your Novel.

~ 12 Dos and Don'ts for a Riveting Opening

~ Basic Formatting of Your Manuscript (Formatting 101)
How to format your manuscript before sending it to an editor or publishing.

~ How to Create Workable Scene Outlines for Your Novel 
Use the outlines below to help you organize your scenes and decide if any of them need to be moved, revised, amped up, or cut.

~ A Checklist for Submitting Your Short Story to Anthologies and Contests

~ Bring Your Characters to Life by Showing Their Reactions

~ How and When to Use Hyphens, Dashes, & Ellipses

~ Writers' Conferences and Book Festivals in North America
Links to more than 150 conferences and book festivals, ordered by date. (over 38,000 page views since January 2015)

~ Pros, Cons, and Steps for Publishing Your Own Book on Amazon

~ Dialogue Nuts and Bolts
The basics of writing dialogue in fiction: paragraphing, punctuation, capitalization, etc.

~ Tips for Writing Effective Dialogue

~ Every Scene Needs Tension and a Change

~ How to Slash Your Word Cut by 20-40% - Without losing any of the good stuff!

~ 21 Tips for Creating a Compelling Short Story

~ 33 Tips for Creating a Short Story Worthy of Contests, Magazines, and Anthologies

~ Style Blunders in Fiction - an oldie but goodie

~ Creating Compelling Characters - another oldie but goodie (This one is from my pre-writing days, so collected advice from writing "gurus", not me.)

~ Tips for Creating Sentences That Flow

Some Common Grammar Gaffes, Part I - who vs that; that vs which; caps

Some Common Grammar Gaffes, Part II - past perfect; misplaced modifiers

Some Common Grammar Gaffes, Part III - lay vs lie; I vs me

To sign up to receive Jodie Renner's sporadic (3-6 times per year) newsletter with links to top craft-of-writing articles and other resources for writers, please click HERE.


Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor, workshop presenter, judge for fiction contests, and the award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Captivate Your Readers,   Fire up Your Fiction, and  Writing a Killer Thriller. She has also published two clickable time-saving e-resources to date: Quick Clicks: Spelling List and Quick Clicks: Word Usage. Jodie recently organized and edited two anthologies for charity: a BC-wide anthology of stories and poetry for Doctors Without Borders, called Voices from the Valleys, and Childhood Regained – Stories of Hope for Asian Child Workers, created to help reduce child labor in Asia. You can find Jodie at www.JodieRenner.com, www.JodieRennerEditing.com, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Click HERE to sign up for Jodie’s occasional newsletter.
 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

VOICES FROM THE VALLEYS – Stories & Poems about Life in BC's Interior

THANKS FOR ALL YOUR FABULOUS SUBMISSIONS! 

Thanks, everyone, for the wonderful response to this BC anthology!

VOICES FROM THE VALLEYS - Stories & Poems about Life in BC's Interior is now available. For information on purchasing this high-quality BC-based anthology, click HERE.

To go to a PDF with excerpts from Voices from the Valleys, click VOICES FROM THE VALLEYS - EXCERPTS.

The anthology is available in e-book and trade paperback through all Amazon websites and will be in independent bookstores and libraries by early December 2015. Bookstores and libraries in Canada can obtain copies of this anthology through Red Tuque Books, http://www.redtuquebooks.ca/publishers/books/distribution/460. Also available in Canada through Cobalt Books, www.CobaltBooks.net, for $18.95 plus postage and handling.

** All proceeds, after production expenses, go to
Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders Canada (MSF.ca).**

PRAISE FOR VOICES FROM THE VALLEYS 


“When I sat down to review Voices from the Valleys, I was prepared to be entertained. Instead I was enthralled with a lively range of fiction and non-fiction stories and poems about towns and valleys and characters that rang so true to my own experiences, growing up in, and returning as an adult to my hometown of Lillooet and Southern British Columbia. This anthology belongs on the bookshelves of anyone fascinated by the history, colour, and texture of rural BC. Supplemented with amazing photographs and sketches, the authors have brought my favourite places to life.”
Christ’l Roshard, former mayor of Lillooet, former editor of Bridge River – Lillooet News 
 

Voices from the Valleys reflects the uniqueness, diversity and cultural richness that exists in BC’s interior. This wonderful collection of stories and poems is a treat for anyone.”
Gary Doi, former school superintendent and creator of the Inspiring Hope book series
 

“What truly captures the unique beauty of a region are the people who live there. Voices from the Valleys, a creative and special collection from passionate and talented authors, is a delightful read.”
Dan Albas, MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola
 

“A visual artist might use canvas, oil, or watercolour to capture the tones and textures of our vivid interior valleys. My delight with Voices from the Valleys is the spirit and emotion of our regions’ stories expressed in the words of poets and authors: art in a written form. A wonderful and moving read.”
Craig Henderson, Naramata author, historian and broadcaster
 

“Congratulations to Jodie Renner for bringing together such a stimulating collection of writing in Voices from the Valleys! This collective literary project showcases the diversity of BC experiences through a delightful variety of expressions.”
Jane Shaak, Executive Director, Shatford Centre, Penticton, BC
 

“Written by some of British Columbia’s finest writers, Voices from the Valleys is a delightful collection of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Well worth picking up and hard to put down, many of the stories slide the reader into the unique and beautiful geography of BC’s Interior. Though many of the topics are familiar, the skillful writing makes them new and intriguing.”
Coco Aders-Weremczuk, President, Federation of BC Writers
 

Voices of the Valleys is an absolute treasure, a tapestry of talent. I have always known the Shuswap Okanagan was a treasure trove of gifted writers. Jodie Renner has now provided the showcase proving this to be true. I found the variety of writing to be energizing and a delight to read.”
Kay Johnston, President of The Shuswap Association of Writers, Chair of Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival, author of the best-seller Spirit of Powwow
 

Voices from the Valleys is a thoroughly captivating collection of stories and poetry. I found myself travelling through time and places, experiencing the authors’ amusement, surprise, wisdom, and delight along the way."
Connie Denesiuk, former president of the B.C. School Trustees Association and director of the Canadian School Board Association 

“The level of skill in these writers is par to bestselling authors. Well worth a cuddle-up in a comfy chair for an evening of reading. Thank you to all of the authors who took the time to entertain, teach, and engage their audience.”
Janice Perrino, executive director of the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation

....


 “Thank you, Jodie. You are creating some amazing opportunities for writers in our area. Kudos to you.”  ~ Sylvia Olson, Coordinator of Kamloops Writers Festival


For this first anthology in a series, we’re looking for entries that highlight interesting experiences (real or fictional) that take or took place somewhere in the interior of BC. Your story or poem could include experiences with BC’s wildlife, logging, mining, fishing, tree planting, fruit growing, vineyards, skiing, hiking, backpacking, climbing, camping, boating, tourism, forest fires, or avalanches, featuring RCMP, fire fighters, fishers, farmers, First Nations Peoples, mountain climbers, fruit pickers, artists, musicians, hippies, students, or any other "BC types," and any activity or setting typical of BC. Maybe a harrowing encounter with a grizzly – or a moose or a cougar? Or maybe even a sighting of a Sasquatch or Ogopogo? We also need more representation from First Nations writers anywhere in the Interior. Please help us spread the word and get more native perspective in this anthology!

A quick tip: Is your idea an interesting story with characters and a problem, dilemma, or challenge, not just description, information, or musings? That's what we'd prefer for this anthology.


“It has been a pleasure working with you on my short memoirs for your Voices anthology, Jodie. I’ve never worked with an editor before but have heard ‘the scary stories.’ You were great, not at all scary ;-) I appreciate your patience, your quick responses and honesty. Thank you very much.” 
   - Wendy Squires, Oct. 2015


What makes this anthology unique?

Besides the BC setting and flavour, this anthology, unlike many others, will provide contributing authors with free critiquing and interactive editing of the stories submitted, if needed. If your story is already of a high quality, it will just get a light proofread and a green light. If it’s “almost there” and looks like a good candidate for inclusion in the anthology but has a few rough edges, you’ll have an opportunity to work closely with a professional editor to take your story up a level or two and hone your writing skills in the process, at no cost, resulting in a polished, error-free story for the anthology. And as the author, you of course will have the final say on editorial suggestions.

“My first experience with a professional editor turned out to be very rewarding. Jodie Renner edited my short story, 'Firestorm,' for her anthology, Voices From the Valleys. From start to finish it was a positive, learning experience. I figured after editing, the story might not reflect my writing voice, but to my amazement Jodie’s editing made Firestorm a much more powerful story. Thanks, Jodie.”
~ William S. Peckham, September 2015


 *See down for more reviews of Jodie's editing of short stories.

Deadline is Oct. 31contributors retain all rights to their stories and poems, which may have appeared elsewhere, and proceeds from sales of the anthology will to go to a reputable charity.  Contributors receive a free print copy and a free e-copy (if desired) of the anthology, and can purchase two more print copies at cost.




What kinds of submissions will be considered?

For this anthology, we're looking for stories that pulsate with life, where your main character is challenged in some way; stories with some tension, that hook readers in with a compelling tale, make them feel like they’re right there with the characters, and engage them emotionally. Our aim is to publish high-quality, curated, and edited stories with a “wow” factor, and also some poetry.

To get a better idea of what we're looking for in fictional stories, please read the guidelines in the blog post above this one. Here's the link: http://jodierennerediting.blogspot.ca/2015/07/33-tips-for-creating-short-story-worthy.html. For the fiction stories, we're looking for stories told from the point of view of the main character, not the author's point of view (omniscient), as this is too distancing. How is your protagonist challenged? Show his/her efforts to overcome difficulties to reach his/her goal.

As we've received a few good memoir-type stories, with interesting information on various regions of BC, feel free to submit something like that too - perhaps an incident in your childhood in BC? We're not looking for rambling travelogues that are mostly description, but a story revolving around something interesting (preferably fascinating or exciting) that happened to you, that includes a problem or dilemma that needed to be solved, and is told using scenes, action, and dialogue, with your reactions to what was going on. Something needs to go wrong, to make an interesting story. You can of course fictionalize it, if you prefer. Just let us know if it's fiction or nonfiction.

Oct. 16 update: The anthology is getting too long (thick) so the new guideline for short stories and creative nonfiction / memoirs is now 300 to 2,000 words long.

Before putting a lot of work into a story, it would be best to contact Jodie first with your idea, in case it's not really something she's looking for here.

“Working with Jodie to improve my creative nonfiction piece for the Voices from the Valleys anthology has been a revelation. I have been writing for decades. At no time in the past has anyone seriously edited my work but me. Jodie’s comments, suggestions, and corrections are instructive, incisive, and valuable. She is straightforward and respectful. My exchanges with Jodie have provided me with tips and advice that will improve all my writing.”
~ Seth Raymond, Prince George, Canada, Sept. 2015

(See down for more comments about Jodie's editing of short stories for anthologies.)

Advantages to contributing writers:

You’ll see your name in print and your poem or story published in a high-quality anthology. You'll also have the opportunity to have your bio and small photo and on the "Contributors" page.
 
Contributors retain all rights to their stories and poems, so your submission is copyrighted by you. Your contribution may have appeared elsewhere and may be published elsewhere later.

You'll have an opportunity to work with a professional editor to hone your writing skills and polish your story, at no cost. Jodie is an award-winning author and has been editing novels and short stories for years (www.JodieRennerEditing.com) and also judges short stories for Writer's Digest and other contests. (See down for more info.)

Each writer whose work is chosen to be included in the anthology will receive a free print copy (trade paperback size) and a free electronic copy of the anthology, and can purchase up to two more at cost (about 50% of retail price).

You'll have the satisfaction of helping the less fortunate in the world. All royalties will be donated to Doctors Without Borders Canada -- Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Medical aid where it is needed most. Independent. Neutral. Impartial. http://www.msf.ca/.

Please join the Facebook group BC Writers, Authors, and Editors to connect with other BC writers and to hear about new developments on this and the next BC-based anthologies, one focusing on coastal and island communities and the other stories about characters, movements, and events in BC's history. And please spread the word to any other writers you know in BC, or who have spent time in BC!

To go to a PDF with excerpts from Voices from the Valleys, click Voices from the Valleys EXCERPTS .

"Jodie did a terrific job editing my short story. She made the action scenes flow smoothly and logically, and showed me how to write better dialogue. Since I am new to writing fiction, Jodie took great care in showing me how to use the close third person point of view and avoid author intrusions into the story. Jodie's editing tightened up the story and really brought it to life. Thank you, Jodie!"
   - L.M. Patrick, Penticton, BC, Oct. 2015



Submission requirements:

Who can submit: This anthology is open to anyone aged 14 and up, living in British Columbia, Canada, and also to people who now live elsewhere but have lived or vacationed in the interior of BC.  This is open to writers from Chilliwack to the Rockies, from Terrace to Prince George, from Fort St. John to Osoyoos, and everything in between. Tell us your stories!

(A future anthology will concentrate more on the coast, Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii, and the Gulf Islands, and perhaps another one for Northern BC.)

Theme: The story or poem needs to depict an interesting incident taking place somewhere in the interior of British Columbia, with the unique characteristics of the region somehow showing through. 

Length and formatting: Short stories and creative nonfiction, 200 to 4,000 words long, double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12-point, one-inch margins all around. Poems should be up to five pages long, single-spaced. All entries need to be in Microsoft Word and submitted electronically as an attachment to an email to: info@CobaltBooks.net or info@JodieRenner.com. Do not send PDFs.

As I'm really busy with editing novels for paying clients and organizing two anthologies, I'd rather not spend a lot of time correcting formatting mistakes, so it would be great if you could carefully read through this article of mine, with illustrations, and correct any glaring formatting errors in your story before you send it to me. Thanks!


Genres: For this anthology, short story entries should take place somewhere in the interior of BC, and be generally realistic, so no fantasy, sci-fi, or horror. Some paranormal elements will be fine. Also, if you know of any BC legends, we'd love to receive them, told in a lively way, with action and dialogue.

Deadline: October 31, 2015.

Publication: November 20, 2015.

Send your submissions to: info@JodieRenner.com or info@CobaltBooks.net.

Checklist for fictional short stories and creative nonfiction:

__ Is my story told through the point of view of one main character?

__ Does it take place in British Columbia, Canada?

__ Does my main character encounter some kind of problem, conflict, or challenge?

__ Am I showing how my character is feeling and reacting to what's happening?

__ Does the story contain enough tension and conflict to keep readers worrying about the protagonist and keep them engaged?

__ Is there some resolution at the end, for some reader satisfaction?

__ Is my story between 200 and 4,000 words long?

How will the anthology be sold, and how will it benefit the less fortunate?
 
We will sell the anthology in both e-book and trade paperback form through all Amazon websites and Chapters-Indigo online. Copies will be distributed to independent bookstores and libraries throughout BC, as well as the gift stores of tourist attractions, including wineries. We'll try to get them on the BC Ferries, as well. It is expected that all contributors will promote the anthology on social media and in their communities and also hand-sell some copies locally.

All the writers and editor Jodie Renner (and possibly other editors, if needed) will donate our time and skills for free, so after paying the cover designer, printer, and distributor, 100% of the book royalties will go to Doctors Without Borders.

If you are interested in helping this worthy cause by putting your skills at writing fiction or creative nonfiction to good use, and getting published in a high-quality anthology, please contact Jodie at info@JodieRenner.com. Use "Voices from the Valleys" in your subject line.

Eight of the many reviews/testimonials of Jodie's editing of short stories. For more, see www.JodieRennerEditing.com/Testimonials.

“Jodie is a brilliant editor. It was a privilege and a pleasure to work with her on my story for her BC anthology. Her interactive editing style took my story to the next level, and I learned lots in the process. Throughout the editing process, she provided in-depth explanations on what changes were needed and the reasons for these changes. This is where the learning took place. Her detailed explanations helped me understand the importance of staying in a character’s viewpoint, especially in a short story, and that characters need to react emotionally as well as physically to what’s going on around them. I now get it and my writing shows it! Also, she has an exceptional eye for detail and was able to focus in on inconsistencies in punctuation, grammar and language, while still looking at the big picture. Throughout the process she taught me the importance of choosing the right words, especially powerful verbs.
“Thank you, Jodie, for sharing your knowledge and for making the editing process a wonderful experience! I look forward to working and learning with you in the future.”
        ~ Linda Kirbyson, Okanagan Falls, BC, Sept. 25, 2015
 
“My first experience with an editor was amazing. Jodie Renner not only edited my short story, 'Snowbird Melting', for her anthology, Voices from the Valleys, but she threw in lots of coaching that I can apply to future stories along the way. Her comments and recommendations erased the invariable hiccups of a new author and pushed the story to another level. I would be thrilled to work with her in the future.”     ~ Eileen Hopkins, Osoyoos, Sept. 9, 2015
 
“I had the honor of working with Jodie Renner on two short stories for her anthology, Childhood Regained - Stories of Hope for Asian Child Workers. Wow! I was amazed at how thoroughly she edited. In repeated passes she helped me fix and polish until, each time, we had a story I was proud of. I'm already asking her to edit my future projects.”
     ~ Steve Hooley, August 2015

“I knew that Jodie Renner was highly respected for her editing of novels, and I was pleased to discover, several years ago, that she also edits short stories. Jodie has assisted me, through  interactive online editing, in getting four of my short stories and numerous poems published. One of my short stories was published in an anthology out of Berkeley, California, while two others were awarded second prize and honourable mention in Canadian Anthologies. Thanks to Jodie’s editing skills, I am now proud to call myself a published author.”
~ D.F. Barrett, August 2015

“My first experience with a professional editor turned out to be very rewarding. Jodie Renner edited my short story Firestorm for her anthology, Voices from the Valleys. From start to finish it was a positive, learning experience. Point of view has always been difficult for me. Jodie’s editing and coaching showed me how the proper POV brings the story to life. I figured after editing, the story might not reflect my writing voice, but to my amazement Jodie’s editing made Firestorm a much more powerful story. Thanks, Jodie.”
     ~ William S. Peckham, September 2015

Jodie edited my novel Daughter of No One and she also edited the two short stories I submitted for her anthology, Childhood Regained. Jodie is a pleasure to work with and she’s a true professional. Her suggestions, on both choice of word and content, were invariably spot-on and helped to make the stories so much better. I couldn’t ask for anything better and so I highly recommend her.”
    ~ Caroline Sciriha, Sept. 1, 2015

“Jodie Renner is a breeze to work with. I’ve had her edit two of my short stories. She gave me precise recommendations, found some grammatical errors that I’d missed, didn’t change my voice or characters, and finished it all up with a personal note on how she liked my work. I’ll definitely use her again!”
     ~ Darcy Nybo, Sept. 2015, Owner – Always Write and Artistic Warrior

“Working with Jodie to improve my creative nonfiction piece for the Voices from the Valleys anthology has been a revelation. I have been writing for decades. At no time in the past has anyone seriously edited my work but me. Jodie’s comments, suggestions, and corrections are instructive, incisive, and valuable. She is straightforward and respectful. My exchanges with Jodie have provided me with tips and advice that will improve all my writing.”
      ~ Seth Raymond, Prince George, Canada

About the editor and publisher, Jodie Renner:

Jodie Renner, a former teacher and school librarian with a master’s degree, is a sought-after freelance editor and the multi-award-winning author of three writing guides and two e-resources for writers and editors. She’s also a respected blogger and speaker at writers’ conferences and to writing groups across North America. Jodie has also served as judge for novels and short stories for many contests, including several times for Writer’s Digest and also for the Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival contest and anthology.

Jodie will be presenting workshops for writers at the Shatford Centre in Penticton over the fall and winter, and is also involved in organizing the Okanagan Valley Writers' Festival, to be held in Penticton on April 8-10, 2016. She presented workshops for writers at Word on the Lake in Salmon Arm in May 2015 and at When Words Collide in Calgary in August 2015.

Jodie has published three writing guides to date in her series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Captivate Your Readers, Fire up Your Fiction, and Writing a Killer Thriller (all available in both e-book and trade paperback). These books are all available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, your local bookstore or library, and Red Tuque Books in Penticton, BC.

Jodie has also published two time-saving, clickable e-resources for writers and editors: Quick Clicks: Word Usage – Precise Word Choices at Your Fingertips and Quick Clicks: Spelling List – Commonly Misspelled Words at Your Fingertips.

Jodie grew up in a remote mining town in BC’s coastal mountains, and also lived in Vancouver for many years (where she attended UBC and SFU and taught in schools) and on Vancouver Island for a few years. Growing up, she vacationed throughout BC, and her extended family is spread around southern BC. Jodie reluctantly moved to Ontario at the age of 32, where she raised a family, taught English, French, and Social Studies for many years, was a school librarian for a few years, and attained a master’s degree in French Literature at the University of Western Ontario. Jodie returned to BC every summer to visit. She moved back to BC for good in April 2014, and is thrilled to finally be back, living in her "homeland." She lives in Penticton, in the South Okanagan, and enjoys taking road trips in every direction from there, stopping often to snap photos.

Jodie is a member of the Federation of BC Writers and the Penticton Writers and Publishers.

Here's the notice about this anthology in the Okanagan School of Arts, Shatford Centre website: http://www.shatfordcentre.com/show3473a/Call_for_Submissions_Voices_from_the_Valleys

Websites: www.JodieRenner.com,  www.JodieRennerEditing.com,  www.CobaltBooks.net

Email: info@JodieRenner.com.

Books by Jodie Renner:
~ Captivate Your Readers – An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction  Amazon.com  Amazon.ca  Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com: 51 reviews, overall average of 4.8 out of 5 stars
~ Fire up Your Fiction – An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Stories   Amazon.com   Amazon.ca   Amazon.co.uk Amazon.com: 110 reviews, overall average of 4.7 out of 5 stars
~ Writing a Killer Thriller – An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction  Amazon.com    Amazon.ca    Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com: 91 reviews, average 4.6/5 stars
~ Quick Clicks: Word Usage – Precise Word Choices at Your Fingertips Amazon.com , Amazon.ca , Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com: 15 reviews, 4.7/5 stars
~ Quick Clicks: Spelling List – Commonly Misspelled Words at Your Fingertips  Amazon.com ,  Amazon.ca ,  Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com: 21 reviews, 4.9/5 stars